- In a bid to halt never-ending reply-all threads, Microsoft rolled out Reply All Storm Protection to all Microsoft Office 365 users, an update announced in 2019 that seeks to ease the email disruption to business continuity.
- When the feature picks up a reply-all email chain with the potential to take over corporate inboxes, it will block attempts to respond to the same thread, showing the sender an NDR (Non-Delivery Receipt) instead.
- The filter will kick in once it detects 10 reply-all emails hitting 5,000 or more inboxes within an hour. After the threshold is met, Office 365 will block the thread for the next four hours.
Workers are already spending upwards of five hours sorting through email between personal and corporate inboxes.
By putting a cap on reply-all threads and reducing the number of accidental mass emails, a feature like that will help at "an individual and organizational level," Amy Loomis, research director of Future of Work at IDC, told CIO Dive.
As part of the pandemic working experience, teams became distributed overnight. As organizations navigate operations, emails unnecessarily hitting scores of inboxes only add disruption to an already complex environment.
Getting reply-all emails under control can also reduce cyber risk at a time of greater exposure. With remote work as the norm, organizations have less visibility than before into how their staffers access and process data. Mass emails can land key information to accounts that may be compromised.
Though mass emails can play an important role as organizations aim to bring their workers together, "it's important to have some guardrails so that people can be as productive as possible, and not have their day interrupted by these continuous replies," Loomis said.